It should be clear that there is indeed something wrong with our society when people make jokes about other people suffering the trauma of abuse and assault. That much should really be common sense. As of yesterday, July 20, 2018, acclaimed film director James Gunn was fired by Disney and Marvel Studios for a series of extremely controversial and offensive posts he made on social media back in 2007 and 2008. The director of such films as Slither, Super, and Marvel‘s Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has been known for his outlandish and innovative take on genre films, diving deep into horror, superheroes, and science fiction and fantasy films, subverting expectations, imbuing them with irreverent humour, and making otherwise obnoxious characters lovable. But now he may find himself a rogue in Hollywood after a conservative political commentator dug up posts he made from over ten years ago and exposed a dark side to the much-loved director’s past and personality. The firing of Gunn brings up a number of questions about accountability, about hypocrisy, about political correctness, about free speech, about the free market, about separating the artist and their art, and about the future of the highly successful Marvel Studios brand’s future.
To start things off, Marvel was purchased by Disney in 2009, about a year after the launch of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) with the 2008 films, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. These two films introduced a way of re-branding both Disney and Marvel, of sharing intellectual property between companies, and of creating a super-franchise comprised of smaller franchises revolving around popular characters and groups of characters. It was the birth of the cinematic universe, where characters from one franchise crossover with characters from another, and each cinematic installment builds upon the last and lays the foundation for the next. From a storytelling perspective, it was the film medium borrowing from the unique qualities of serialized narratives as found in comic books and graphic novels, and from a corporate perspective, it was a studio tapping into synergy in a way that had never been done before (or since really). However, creatively, aside from that first Iron Man film, most of the early MCU films failed to recapture the fun, intelligence, action, and character dynamism that made the comic books so special. Until The Avengers was released in 2012, that is, and changed everything. Since then, Marvel has exploded into one of the most innovative of studios, both creatively and commercially, making literally billions of dollars every year in ticket sales, home video releases, merchandising, and licensing deals.
This largely has to do with how it has taken lesser known characters, allowed lesser known genre and independent filmmakers who were passionate about them, reinvent them on screen. Jon Favreau, who directed Iron Man in 2008 and Iron Man 2 in 2010, and Joss Whedon, who directed The Avengers in 2012 and Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015, were the creative spearheads behind most of the films that comprised Phase One and Phase Two of the MCU. But fans started to show some signs of superhero fatigue and critically a number of entries in the various franchises didn’t quite live up to the massive storm cloud of hype that grew around them. There were among these truly epic franchises a number of films that were consider by comic book fans, film critics, and industry economists, to have missed their mark. There were also films that surpassed expectations and radically altered not only the way these superhero films were being written, directed, and marketed, but also the creative direction that the whole MCU was moving in. Phase Two, overall, while relatively successful commercially, felt formulaic, predictable, and bland. Both Iron Man 3 and Avengers: Age of Ultron felt underwhelming and failed to live up to fans’ expectations of how hugely iconic characters would be treated. But in 2014, two films, one a sequel and one an origin story, shot the MCU to the very height of comic book movie adaptations.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, directed by brothers Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, took the Captain America character back to the basics, telling a nuanced, thrilling, and more grounded story than its predecessor Captain America: The First Avenger had. Creating a palpable amount of suspense, introducing a deeper level of political commentary, more meaningful character development, and a touch of the techno-thriller, the film had more in common with the first Iron Man film, and was the first truly great sequel of the MCU. While other sequels, such as Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, and Thor: The Dark World, had done reasonably well with critics and in terms of box office, The Winter Soldier captured the spirit of the characters and the comics while adapting them faithfully on-screen, embodying the potential of what superheroes could be on screen and what they could represent to a real world of moviegoers. The film raised the bar and set a new standard for sequels and made the “least favourite Avenger” the coolest, most honourable, and most relatable member of the superhero team. Cap was officially cool again.
While the Russos redefined what a Marvel sequel could and should be, James Gunn came onto the scene with Guardians of the Galaxy, a bizarre and unexpected film that combined buddy comedy film, heist film, science fiction film, fantasy film, and adventure film tropes into a truly revolutionary concoction that proved to be box office gold. The film was hailed by critics and audiences alike for its snappy dialogue, its beautifully colourful special effects, for its mixture of genres, and for its array of roguish and lovable characters. It was at once the MCU‘s greatest risk and biggest success. The film took a second-rate, maybe even third-rate, group of characters that almost no one was familiar with outside the most diehard of comic book fans, and elevated them to a-level star status, making both the cast and the characters themselves, an integral part of the MCU. This was in part due to casting against convention, hiring the chubby and charming Chris Pratt from the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation to be the handsome, muscle-bound, morally ambiguous, bed-hopping, smart-ass thief, Peter Quill, known as Star-Lord. Joining Pratt was Zoe Saldana as the green-skinned assassin, Gamora, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel as a mercenary raccoon and walking, talking tree, Rocket and Groot respectively, and Dave Bautista as Drax, a vengeance obsessed hulk of tattooed muscle. The stars seemed as unlikely as the concept. Guardians of the Galaxy became one of the highest grossing films of its year and turned the direction of the MCU away from the standard superhero fare and aimed its sight to the cosmos. Science fiction and fantasy would be the underlying genres of the MCU‘s most creative period, Phase Three.
Aside from the brilliant performances from the cast, and the dazzling display of special effects, most of the credit for the success of the Guardians of the Galaxy went to the writer-director, James Gunn, whose visionary direction and witty dialogue turned the world of science-fantasy on its head in the best way possible. Having directed the gruesome horror comedy Slither in 2006, and the satirical vigilante film Super in 2010, his previous films had shown that Gunn was edgy and talented, and that his dark and nihilistic sense of humour would lend themselves well to genre films.
Subsequently, the Russos directed Captain America: Civil War in 2016, which not only saw divisions drawn among the Avengers, Iron Man and Captain America, leading to an all-out war, but also introduced both Spider-Man and the Black Panther to the MCU, expanding their superhero mythology. They followed that up with the third Avengers film, Avengers: Infinity War in 2018, which saw all of the major characters in the MCU unite together to face the cosmic threat of Thanos, whose presence had been growing since the very first Avengers film eight years earlier, and was the first culminating chapter of the MCU begun ten years earlier.
Gunn would then go onto direct the 2017 sequel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and expand the cosmic mythology as well as reaffirm the Guardians characters as the iconic and irreverent upstarts in Marvel‘s pantheon. Along with the Russos, Gunn would become one of the most important creative voices behind the MCU, just under Kevin Feige, producer and President of Marvel Studios. The Russos would oversee Captain America and the Avengers in their next two films, and would help to steer the direction of the superhero characters, and Gunn would set the tone and visual style for the science fiction and fantasy worlds. It was a perfect formula for unprecedented success.
The MCU was moving in leaps and bounds. With each new franchise introduced, the sky seemed to be the limit, the creativity seemed to grow, the box office set new records, and fans rejoiced. The Russos with their Captain America and Avengers films, Gunn with the Guardians, Scott Derrickson with Doctor Strange released in 2016, Taika Waititi with Thor: Ragnarok released in 2017, Ryan Coogler with Black Panther released in 2018. Each new film introduced a host of new characters, new ideas, new themes, new narratives, and the possibility for countless new adventures.
On June 25, 2018, James Gunn posted across his social media platforms the cover page for his screenplay of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which was due out in 2020, and described it as “Every bit of my heart.”
The Marvel Cinematic Universe was thriving and bringing new writers and directors from independent filmmaking in with each new installment, reintroducing and reinventing characters, redefining genres, and reinvigorating Hollywood. They seemed to be moving at full momentum, unstoppable, unsinkable, and untouchable. Everything seemed to be going according to plan.
Or so we all thought…
Then in the last weeks of July 2018 came the unforeseeable reemergence of some very unsavoury social media posts by Gunn that made light of pedophilia, abuse, sexual assault, and transphobia.
The following highlighted portion of this post contains some of the more egregious content that Gunn posted in its original form. I neither endorse nor excuse his words. I also forewarn any survivors of sexual abuse or assault that the content is highly insensitive and disturbing and that they may want to skip ahead past the next few images and gallery of Tweets.
Words like these are incendiary. They are insensitive. They are inexcusable. They are indefensible. No one, I repeat NO ONE, should ever make light of sexual abuse or rape, especially in regards to children. No one should dehumanize members of the trans community. It’s not merely a matter of having questionable taste or an edgy sense of humour. This isn’t dark humour. This isn’t nihilism. This is using language to reinforce rape culture, dismissing the feelings of actual survivors of horrific abuse, and reducing them to platforms from which to spout jokes that are neither funny or provocative. It’s using language to further disenfranchise the underrepresented, the marginalized, and the vulnerable. It’s unacceptable and it was inevitable that there would be a prompt and serious backlash against the director.
Perhaps most damning of all was a blog post response and sharing of a link, alleged to have been sent in 2010 by Floyd ‘Huston’ Huddleston, who in 2018 was charged with possessing child pornography and of contacting a minor with the intent to perform felony acts. Huddleston was later convicted of a misdemeanour for the possession of child pornography and his named was added to the sex offender registry.
In response to his old social media posts, Gunn made the following statement:
“Many people who have followed my career know when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo. As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor. It’s not to say I’m better, but I am very, very different than I was a few years ago; today I try to root my work in love and connection and less in anger. My days saying something just because it’s shocking and trying to get a reaction are over. In the past, I have apologized for humor of mine that hurt people. I truly felt sorry and meant every word of my apologies. For the record, when I made these shocking jokes, I wasn’t living them out. I know this is a weird statement to make, and seems obvious, but, still, here I am, saying it. Anyway, that’s the completely honest truth: I used to make a lot of offensive jokes. I don’t anymore. I don’t blame my past self for this, but I like myself more and feel like a more full human being and creator today. Love to you all.“
Within 24 hours of the Twitter content resurfacing, Disney and Marvel Studios severed ties with Gunn, issuing this official statement from Alan Horn, the Chairman of Walt Disney Studios:
“The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him.“
In response to Disney firing him, Gunn made the following statements:
“My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative. I have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time.“
“Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.“
Now, I personally can’t say that I disagree with Disney firing Gunn, completely severing ties with him. While Gunn has tried to downplay the things he’s said while taking accountability for them, one cannot simply dismiss them as failed attempts at humour or provocation, because words are just as powerful as actions, and they can carry equally dangerous and unpredictable repercussions. Is making jokes about child molestation and rape any better than actually molesting children or committing acts of rape? I would argue that it is not, because it is creating tolerance for those horrific behaviours, it is neglecting the feelings of the survivors of those acts, and it is dulling what should be an innate and acute sense of empathy for those who have been traumatized. Jokes and statements like the ones Gunn made back then help to preserve rape culture, help to stigmatize survivors, and help to embolden apologists. It’s reprehensible and it’s irresponsible, and as Disney has a longstanding tradition of catering to children and families, it is to be expected that they sever ties with him. In this instance I think they made the right choice.
The question remains, though, did they make the right choice for the right reasons? Gunn is by no means the first celebrity to become caught up in a scandal, whose actions and words have come back to bite him in the ass, and he’s neither the first or last person to be fired for what was put on social media. However, there is a certain amount of inconsistency with Alan Horn‘s statement, a certain amount of frustrating hypocrisy, as Disney and its associate companies have worked with actors and directors in the past who were noted sex offenders. Long after director Roman Polanski was convicted of and admitted to drugging and raping a teenage girl, Miramax, then a subsidiary of Buena Vista and Disney, released his film The Pianist in 2002. They released the film Powder in 1995, under their division Hollywood Pictures, despite the fact that the film’s director Victor Salva had been convicted of molesting a twelve-year old child actor on a film set seven years earlier. Miramax also released three films by director Woody Allen, in 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1998, despite that he had been accused of spousal and child abuse. Even Miramax‘s co-founder, Hollywood powerhouse, Harvey Weinstein was alleged by over eighty women, over the span of thirty years, to have sexually harassed, abused, and assaulted them. It seems incongruous to Horn’s statement that the course of action taken with Gunn, whose words were offensive and inappropriate, yes, but who committed no actual crimes, was following some form of procedural precedent. The choice to fire Gunn seems peculiarly selective given the company’s history of working with actual sexual predators.
More than any other time in recent history, celebrities in Hollywood are being stripped of their privilege, held accountable for their words and actions, and being made subject to the very real and necessary repercussions of those words and actions. Which brings us to the current controversy. Is this “cleaning house” effectively dealing with criminal behaviours that have been swept under the rug? Or, as some critics are saying, have things been taken too far out of a spirit of retribution? I don’t think there’s a singular answer to either question. Hollywood has wallowed in luxury, indulgence, and decadence since its inception. Celebrities have always been held to different standards than the average person. In some cases, their actions are swept conveniently and quietly under the rug, and their behaviours continue unchecked. Other times, celebrities have been unjustly vilified by the media, their actions exaggerated, their careers and reputations ruined, and the consequences disproportionate to their behaviours.
Again, I ultimately agree with Disney‘s termination of James Gunn, but I do question what their real motives were. Gunn has been a vocal critic of the policies of the current Trump presidency and its administration. Indeed, it was conservative political commentators, Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec, who dug up the old Tweets and shared them. Some conservative commentators are calling for Gunn’s films to be boycotted while others are demanding an investigation into any possible explicit illegal activities that could result in prosecution. Fox News Channel, a longtime bastion of American conservatism, even declared that the strategic release of the Tweets and blog content was done out of retaliation, saying, “Gunn’s past tweets were dug up on Thursday by critics who oppose his political beliefs. The filmmaker is an outspoken liberal who often criticizes President Trump.“
The reaction to Gunn’s posts and subsequent firing, however, have not been limited by partisanship. People on both sides of the dichotomous aisles have been vocal in either their defense of Gunn or condemning him. Some liberal sex assault survivors have called his films portraits of “misogyny and ableism” while some conservative free speech advocates have called his termination “bad precedent and a mistake“. Some conservatives are pointing out the recent termination of celebrity and Donald Trump supporter Roseanne Barr, who compared Valerie Jarrett, an African-American advisor to former President Barrack Obama, to an ape, and saying that if a conservative can be fired for her views than a liberal is no different. Some liberals are saying that Disney knowingly hired him despite these Tweets and are only firing him now due to conservative media pressure from Fox News Channel. * Regardless of politics, people are upset, and rightfully so on a variety of counts. While accusations of censorship don’t really stand up under any scrutiny, given the circumstances, and since it was Gunn who removed the controversial content himself, and since Disney hasn’t violated any contractual commitments in terminating Gunn, at least that we know of (legally they are protected in distancing themselves from an individual or organization whose practices conflict with their business interests). Whether there was a possible political agenda remains to be seen, but for now, Gunn’s career has just reached a grinding halt and he may not recover given the current tense climate surrounding matters of sexual harassment and assault. There are certain attitudes and behaviours, certain crimes for that matter too, of a sexually predatory nature, which destroy careers and haunt a person afterwards. As they should. Whether or not Gunn can recover from this also remains to be seen. He’s certainly a multi-talented writer and filmmaker, but that’s where my praise for him will have to stop for now, because the charade of him being a generous, humourous, and loving egalitarian, which I once believed him to be and admired him for, has just crash-landed on this planet of reality and its inhabitants aren’t buying it anymore.
* Disney had announced plans to buy 20th Century Fox sometime in 2019, though Fox News and other subsidiaries would be divided from the main part of the company and spun off.
What this will mean going forward for Disney, and for Marvel in particular, is unknowable at this time. This whole incident is a huge blemish on their success record and could drastically affect their announced plans to focus more on obscure characters and offbeat filmmakers. Whether they will remain committed to the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise and that tentative 2020 release date for the third film is unknown. One thing is for sure, Gunn’s not going to direct it, and the studio may even want to distance themselves from the screenplay he wrote. And as Gunn had filmed a number of cameos with Stan Lee for future films, those too may be at risk of editing, alteration, or even omission. Artistically, this would be a shame, but ethically, it may be necessary.
An argument can be made for separating the art from the artist, but in the modern era, especially when the artist is still living and when art has become so commercialized, and the way in which it is consumed commoditized, supporting the art financially is also supporting the artist. As a student of art history, and of film history as well, I have had no qualms with praising a work of art by an artist, or a film made by a filmmaker, whose personal views or whose actions I oppose wholeheartedly, but I cannot in good conscience take money out of my wallet and put it into their hands, knowing that it will enable them in their behaviours or advance their agenda. Part of living conscientiously in a capitalist society is accepting a degree of responsibility by being a conscious consumer. I will not knowingly spend money on a ticket for a film directed by a convicted child abuser. I will not knowingly spend money on a sandwich from a company whose money goes into campaigns against marriage equality. I will not knowingly spend money on a brand of jeans that were manufactured in a sweatshop. This, for me, is where I have to draw the line. Once you become aware that something is wrong, that someone is being harmed or exploited, you stand up for that person and not their abuser or oppressor.
Marvel has a few options that they can take advantage of to make this right:
One, they could push back the release date of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, in order to find a new director and/or writer. This option could take time and since all of the MCU films are so intrinsically linked, it could also interfere with their plans regarding other films, so it doesn’t seem the most lucrative choice.
Two, they could tap one of their current writer-directors to do the film instead, which could result in the film still meeting its deadline. This is the route I expect they will go and the one that makes the most sense. I think in light of the huge success of Thor: Ragnarok, which featured both science fiction and fantasy elements, and since many of the characters have already crossed over with the Guardians, that writer-director/actor Taika Waititi has both the visual flair and the right comedic sensibilities to take over the franchise.
Three, they could controversially cancel the Guardians films altogether, do a few pick-up shoots for the upcoming Avengers sequel, and use those to wrap up the story for the Guardians. While this is potentially an option, and it’s possible that many of Gunn’s plans will get scrapped and we’ll see some retrofitting with the characters and story, I don’t think this will happen purely because it’s throwing away box office and studios don’t do that if they can help it.
Four, they could shift focus away from the cosmic characters and story lines they had planned, and focus on the superheroes again or on the mystic. Now, given that Disney/Marvel is planning to purchase 20th Century Fox partly in order to acquire the X-Men, Fantastic 4, Galactus, Silver Surfer, and other cosmic characters, it seems unlikely and very counter-intuitive for them to move away from the cosmic characters, especially when both the upcoming Avengers sequel and the Captain Marvel film will cement the focus on cosmic themed movies for the next four to five years.
So here’s hoping that we see more of the Guardians and that Thor: Ragnarok writer-director Taika Waititi will be at the helm…
As for James Gunn, I think it’s clear that he needs some kind of help, especially if an investigation is launched into his connection with Huddleston and the kind of content he was “joking” about turns out to be more. It’s clear at this point that he has a sick sense of humour, but that alone isn’t punishable by law, however, if there is more to come in this story and it’s revealed that he in anyway broke the law or participated in the endangerment or abuse of anyone, he needs to be held legally accountable as well. Hopefully this will not turn out to be the case. I don’t think that there are many people who are completely irredeemable, but I do think that certain words and actions are unforgivable, and when it comes right down to it, were I personally familiar with Gunn, I could not remain an associate or acquaintance with him knowing that he said these things and joked with a now known sex offender about child pornography. That’s not someone I could work with or be friends with. Time will tell how many actors, writers, directors, and producers feel similarly.
So, since originally posting this, additional information has been made available, and in light of it, my initial feelings have changed. Please, read the following, and I will continue to post updates as needed.
Firstly, it has been confirmed that Disney did know about the controversial blog posts prior to hiring James Gunn, which changes things rather dramatically. Because they hired him knowing about these old social media posts, which he did apologize for back in 2012, and they didn’t feel that those posts were reasons not to hire him initially, it would not make sense to fire him for them now merely because more media attention had been brought to them. Aside from being ethically dubious, it’s just bad business practice, and this is where it becomes more clear that in their eyes he did no wrong other than to run afoul of his public image. Taking into account that Disney and their subsidiary companies had no qualms with hiring filmmakers who were known to be or alleged to be actual sex offenders and distributing their work under their brand, that they didn’t feel that this was so severe that it should prevent them from working with him, there don’t seem to be real legal grounds to firing him. Again, Horn’s talk of what is consistent with the company has to be called into question, and so does the real reason for firing him. As far as we know, no survivors of assault or exploitation have ever come forward to allege that Gunn harmed them, so other than make some really offensive social media posts, what has he done to warrant firing? It seems that the real issue that Disney has with him is one of reputation and public opinion. They don’t really care what their employees do so long as they aren’t caught and no controversy arises from their actions that might potentially harm profits.
Secondly, in regards to Gunn’s friendship or association with Huddleston, no new information has come forward from Disney, from Gunn, or from anyone connected to them. No formal investigation has been announced. At this time, it’s only fair to assume that if an investigation was warranted, it would be well underway, and then it would be merely a matter of time before the result of such an investigation would be made public and charges would or wouldn’t be made.
The two men who first shared the old Tweets and blog posts, Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec, both fringe commentators and conspiracy theorists, also supported the now infamous “pizzagate”, where it was claimed in 2016 that Comet Ping Pong, a pizza restaurant, was involved in a child sex-trafficking ring, and that it had ties to Democrats in high positions of office and to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. This unsurprisingly turned out to be a strategic hoax intended to deter voters from supporting Clinton. Meanwhile, numerous social media posts from Cernovich show that he has been responsible for equally repugnant and offensive content, which can be seen below, including commentary where he also makes light of sexual assault. The hypocrisy deepens.
Many conservatives, upset over the firing of Roseanne Barr, are drawing parallels to Gunn, essentially claiming that his termination was as fair as hers. However, this is really a false equivalence, as one, Barr was fired for making racist remarks while she was in the employ of ABC–Disney, whereas Gunn’s controversial posts were made prior to his being hired and not during his contract with Disney, and two, because Barr dismissed her remarks first by saying that she wasn’t aware of the person’s race and then later by claiming that her remarks were due to bad judgement as a result of medication. Gunn owned up to his behaviour and has apologized for it multiple times.
Furthermore, multiple petitions to Disney to re-hire Gunn have sprung up online, which have generated hundreds of thousands of signatures (with this one receiving over 347,000 signatures as of this update), and a number of the cast and crew have not only spoken up in defense of Gunn, but vocally supported the petition. On July 30, 2018, all of the major members of the cast cross-posted a petition in support of Gunn on their respective social media accounts. Actor Chris Pratt, who is one of the few openly conservative members of the Hollywood community, had this to say about his director and the petition: “Although I don’t support James Gunn’s inappropriate jokes from years ago, he is a good man. I’d personally love to see him reinstated as director of Volume 3. If you please, read the following statement- signed by our entire cast.“
As a result of this new information, I have to say that I can no longer agree with Disney‘s firing of Gunn, though I still take strongly oppose and disapprove of the social media posts he made. What he said was disgusting, insensitive, and wrong. But due to the circumstances, because Disney knew about it prior to hiring him, and because they do have a history of hiring people who have done much worse, the treatment that Gunn has received is not following a consistent precedent, as he is being held to different standards. From what I can see that is discrimination. It’s becoming progressively more and more apparent that this whole controversy is being augmented by the political Right as a form of retaliation against Gunn for his own political views of the current presidential administration, and that by allowing this retaliation to persist and endowing it with an efficacy, they are directly affecting both his creative output and his professional career. His termination is not motivated by any genuine concern for anyone. This is a character assassination and Disney is now guilty of, not only hypocrisy, but caving under political pressure and potentially ruining a man’s career.
In conclusion, if it had been me making the decision I would not have hired Gunn knowing about the kinds of things he had posted online, but Disney did know about it and they hired him anyway, which as far as I can see is an indication that they did not view it as a reason for him not to be in their employ and therefore is not reason for firing him. Should they hire him back? I think so as he did not violate any contractual agreements and as they knew of the social media content before.